Speedy Fords searching for respect
HAVERFORD >> A huge smile comes to the face of Haverford School quarterback Dante Perri at the thought of getting the ball to running back/defensive back Daiyaan Hawkins and wide receiver/safety Kevin Thomas.
“If I could do a back flip, I would do one,” Perri said. “All I have to do is get the ball out of my hands and give them something they can run with and they’ll do their thing.”
Few teams boast two players with the kind of speed Hawkins and Thomas possess.
Hawkins, a senior, ranked first in the county and second in the state in the 100-meter dash last track season. The 10.46 seconds he ran to win the Inter-Ac title was a school and league record, and was .03 seconds off the county mark of 10.43 held by Olympian and Daily Times Athlete of the Millennium Leroy Burrell.
Thomas, a sophomore, was the top 110-meter hurdler in the county as a freshman (14.40) and was ranked seventh in the state in that event. He also was ranked 14th in the 300-meter hurdles. Both athletes earned first-team All-Delco honors for their track work. Yet football, not track, is the No. 1 sport for both guys.
Hawkins, a second-team all-Inter-Ac defensive back as a junior, began playing flag football with the 69th Street Wildcats in Upper Darby. He has scholarship offers from Albany and New Hampshire. Thomas got his start with the Clifton Heights Rams.
“I started at a young age and fell in love with it,” Thomas said.
The last two years, though, have not been fun for Hawkins, Thomas, Perri and the rest of the Fords, at least from a win-loss standpoint. The Haverford School went 3-6 last season and 1-4 in the Inter-Ac League. That came on the heels of a 1-9, 0-5 campaign the year before.
“Every single guy on this team feels disrespected for the last two years and we want to change that,” Perri said.
The Fords believe they have the pieces and, more importantly, the chemistry, to get back to the top of the Inter-Ac, where they were just a few short years ago. The Haverford School shared the league title with Malvern Prep in 2013 and won it outright in 2014 and 2015.
“We’re doing more team activities,” said Hawkins, who ran for 385 yards and four touchdowns last year. “We do stuff at people’s houses and include the freshmen to get them involved. We’ve been doing a lot of team bonding. We’re trying to play as a family.“
“We like the energy,” Perri added. “We like the guys. We like the talent we have on this team. We feel a lot closer as a team.”
In addition to Perri, Hawkins and Thomas, the Fords have a solid core of returnees to make the turnaround a reality. Kwaku Adubofour, Jack Schlegel, Mike Gavin and Matt Carlino (tight end) are back to anchor both sides of the line. Jake Spencer (WR/DB), Ben Murphy (FB/OLB), Mike McKenna (WR/OLB), Samir Gardner (SS/RB), Chris Sims (DB/WR) and Mekhi Ajose-Williamson (RB/LB) are among the many skilled players in the backfield and on the perimeter. Chris Clark is back to handle the kicking and punting duties.
“We’re a team with a lot of potential,” said Hawkins, who ran for 385 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. “I think we can do some great things this year, bring the whole cycle back around. The last two seasons didn’t go very well. This is going to be a breakout season for us.”
Haverford School 2019 Schedule
Date Event Time/Results Venue Northeast vs Haverford School 36 - 0 Haverford School Archbishop Carroll vs Haverford School 21 - 31 Haverford School La Salle College vs Haverford School 48 - 27 Haverford School Haverford School vs Father Judge 30 - 10 Father Judge Gilman School vs Haverford School 20 - 47 Haverford School Haverford School vs Springside-Chestnut Hill 24 - 28 Springside-Chestnut Hill Germantown Academy vs Haverford School 7 - 38 Haverford School Penn Charter vs Haverford School 10 - 39 Haverford School Haverford School vs Malvern Prep 30 - 20 Malvern Prep Haverford School vs Episcopal Academy 28 - 38 Episcopal Academy
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Dante Perri, Quarterback >> The 6-1, 186-pound senior threw for 623 yards and five touchdowns while sharing the QB duties with Ben Gerber last season. He’s ready to take the reins as the starter.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Kwaku Adubofour, Lineman >> The 6-2, 256-pound senior is a three-sport athlete who combines brawn with brains. He has a 3.9 GPA, 4.7 weighted for honor roll classes. Adubofour’s skills as a wrestler have proved beneficial on the offensive and defensive lines.
By Terry Toohey, firstname.lastname@example.org